Posted by: Valerie | February 27, 2011

Camping in the bedroom

Friday, over a week ago.

The weather changed. From well below zero, the temperature suddenly soared to seven degrees above and we had a spring in our steps and Spring on our minds. It was Soup Day at the Legion. $5 for as much as you could consume and about 40 different soups to choose from, all made by the worthy matrons of the town, including our new mayor. The Legion was packed with soup-seekers. We wandered happily, tasting some of this and some of that. All delicious. All for United Way. Good for the soul and the tummy.

Lasagne soup? Not my choice!

By the time we got home, a mild wind was rising and continued to rise. It must have been almost gale force by the time we went to bed. Then there was a sudden clunk and all was darkness. No big surprise. Power out. Outside, the wild howl of the wind, unforgiving bare branches tossing the glimmering full moon from treetop to treetop. Wuthering weather! But no sign of Heathcliffe thankfully (I never really could get into Heathcliffe) . Joe will do for me!

We woke in the morning to a cold house – we always have a cold house in the morning – but now there was no way of warming it up, no way of taking a shower, no way of flushing the loo. No phone either. Emergency procedures were required so we set up camp in our big master bedroom. I am pretty good at that, having camped a lot in my past life. We were not too badly off as the big bedroom is an extension that was added a few years ago and has its own heating system providing us with radiant propane heat. We cook with gas too so were able to make hot drinks etc, even though it was necessary to wear my fuzzy dressing-gown over all my clothes to venture into the kitchen. So with no Saturday Premier League soccer on the telly for Joe and no jobs for me to do, (why do I always decide to do the ironing when the power is out?) we ended up talking to each other and listening to music on an old battery-operated ghetto blaster. It was rather pleasant.

Camp Powerout


It all went to bring back memories of camping trips that I took with Warren, my late husband. When he first introduced me to camping I was uncertain to say the least but quickly learned to love it. I also loved the flexibility it gave us to roam around and see the country. Eventually we bought a pop-up trailer which we dragged all the way Vancouver Island and back but for the first couple of years it was strictly tent camping. We learned to avoid the big commercial campsites and stick to the provincial and national park sites which were roomy and private.

In all our travels from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island and back through the northern US states, from Maine all the way to Florida and back there are many campsites I’ll always remember like the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia where the deer were so tame they came to investigate us; waking up to a small lake inside our tent in Nova Scotia and spending the day in the laundromat drying everything we had; trying to clean shrimp that we bought from a fishing boat in Georgia, only to be besieged by clouds of flies; the site on Vancouver Island that was covered in big fat banana slugs where Warren bravely stood out in the pouring rain shucking enormous oysters for dinner; the site in Northern Ontario where we daren’t even leave the trailer to go for a pee for the swarms of ravenous mosquitoes and blackfly waiting to devour us. I could continue as there are lots and lots of stories, many of them containing experiences with wildlife but perhaps I will add just one more. The setting: Jasper National Park in the heights of the Rockies. We set up our trailer on a prime site – no other campers around, just astonishing mountain scenery and the sounds of birds in the trees. We went for little walk to get our bearings and returned to find a cow elk had established itself close to our trailer – and was clearly in labour. “How lovely,” we thought “we’re going to have a baby elk born right here.” How naive we were, as we were soon to find out when a park ranger passed by. “Not good news,” he told us. “The bears will be here as soon as the calf is born. They come for the afterbirth. You don’t want to be around for that.” GRRR! We were doing the growling then as we had to dismantle our temporary home and move to another site. Do you know what a pain in the rear that is? Fortunately we had our portable bar with us and consoled ourselves with alcohol in front of a crackling fire after our move. We never did see the baby elk or the bears although they were plentiful as we saw later. Jasper is one of my favourite places.

Jasper from the top of Whistlers Mountain

After Warren died I sold the trailer and my camping days were over. But not my travelling days – not for a long time, I hope. Joe enjoys travelling just as much as I do, but he does like to sleep in a comfy bed at night. We visited Jasper last year and he loved it as much as I do. We even spent one night in the famous and unbelievably posh, in a rustic way, Jasper Park Lodge ( a birthday present from my sister. Thanks again, Sue.) The rest of our week’s stay was spent in more more modest but perfectly pleasant accommodation. Hopefully we’ll go again one day. That trip also included a commission from my daughter and her husband to go Osoyoos BC and buy large quantities of wine and included a two-night stay at the guest house at Tinhorn Creek Winery! A tough commission indeed!

This year my marathoner daughter Anna and her husband Tim have chosen to take part in the Columbia Icefields Parkway (Lake Louise to Jasper) relay race at the end of May. She and Tim are a strange couple in that way. Why on earth would one choose to run up some of the highest mountains in the country? You can drive it in about three hours. How long will it take to run? It is a lot of UP. But that is their idea of a good time. Not mine.

In a couple of weeks I will be going to Ottawa for a Deklin fix. I haven’t seen him since the beginning of January so I’m excited to see the changes. Of course I am also looking forward to seeing his Dad and Mum! Ottawa seems so much farther in the winter. Cabin fever. Oh, for some colour. I miss it so much.


  1. It seems that life is not dull in the frozen north–you would have done well in the blitz, Valerie, whilst I would have worried about where is the nearest flush toilet!!

  2. What is that painting above the dresser in your very cosy looking bedroom?

    • I love that painting. I bought it in Prince Edward Island in the mid-90s. The artist was a Grandmas Moses type who had never painted before he retired and I can find nothing about him on the internet. The place is called French River and I have a photograph that I took at exactly the same spot when I was on the island for Richard’s wedding.

      Have you ever been to PEI? It is a delight but probably at its best slightly off-season as all the Anne of Green Gables seekers clog up the roads in high summer. When I took Joe, he asked to see Green Gables because he and his wife had watched the TV series. So off we trotted and toured the “Anne” house. Then Joe scatched his head and said “But where is the station where Anne arrived?” It was only then that I realised that he didn’t know it was fiction. Probably wasn’t much of a seller in Communist Budapest! The Japanese are big Anne-fans and overrun the tiny island in the summer. At the other side of the country they swarm Banff too as apparently it features in a hugely popular soap opera in Japan. All the shops have Japanese signs and a high percentage of the staff are Japanese.

      This is going to turn into another blog post but I must tell about the time we had been to Banff with my parents and Dad of course didn’t fail to notice the Japanese influence and muttered and groaned about them in his usual intolerant way! When we got back to the hamlet near Sue’s place we all decided to go for a pizza. As we were waiting to be served, three really large Indian guys came in. Dad takes one look, slams his fists on the table and through clenched teeth, explodes “These goddamn Japanese are everywhere!” Mum, Sue and I took refuge in the Ladies to avoid the embarrassment!

      Got to do some work now. Was going to town but it is snowing like STINK!~

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